Star Wars
According To Jack

Episode I
The Phantom Menace

Scene 24: Preparations for War

Beneath the blades of those giant grasses that evolved for generations in a hotspot of the Force, the Gungan troops muster with amazing efficiency.

The priests quickly discover that their sacred "brite-a-lite" globes are in fact ammunition. A small debate arises over their exact properties between Obi-Wan, Captain Panaka and Boss Nass, who it turns out has a surprising grasp of Force physics. In the end, the most they can agree on is that the orbs seem to be some kind of electromagnetic pulse contained by the Force, disabling nearby circuits on impact--perfect for fighting a droid army. Now the priests go about piling the ammunition (which they now call "boomers") into carts, while the warriors distribute armaments etched with the light of the Force.

"It's like the Gungans were made for this," observes Panaka.

Anakin does not sleep long, and when he wakes, he is quick to pull Boss Nass aside. They spend much time in private conference together.

"Your droids are safe," Nass adds as an afterthought to a lengthy description of the resources available to Anakin. "Shall I have them kept in our secret place, with the Gungan priests and children?"

"Naw, I'm gonna need Artoo," says Anakin. "And nobody but me can understand him without Threepio. They make a good team. We'll take both of them with us."

"As you wish."

"Hey...whatever happened to the Gungan that brought us here? Jar-Jar Binks?"

"Jar-Jar! Hmm." Nass's frown stretches as low as it can go. "That boy's on kaadu cleanup duty. That's about all I trust him to handle, and even then, I worry he'll find a way to get us all killed. That kid is, as my people say, bad bombin."

"That just doesn't seem right," says Anakin. "He risked his life helping to get me here. We all make mistakes. Some of the biggest mistakes come from the folks who have the most to offer; I'm starting to learn that now."

Boss Nass sighs. "Very well. You're the Choosin One."

"I'm just saying," Anakin replies, disliking this deference without agreement. "Maybe your Creator made Jar-Jar for a reason."

"Your Creator, too," says Nass.

"Ex--excuse me?"

"Anakin, the Choosin One--YOU have been sent by our Creator to restore balance to the Force in the dark times to come. At least, that is how the story goes, in our own stilted terms. Our Creator did not bless many of us with the full gifts of language, but that same Creator created you, with all your powers."

"I--I don't know if..." Anakin wriggles. "But you see, there's lots of prophecies about powerful people, and Jedi are powerful people, so when we show up..."

"I have always had faith in our stories," Nass reflects as Anakin trails off. "But after the sights I have seen since your arrival, I no longer consider it a question of faith."

Anakin thinks about this, and then says sternly, "Jar-Jar Binks. What would he rather be doing, if he were left to choose how to serve our cause?"

"I believe he thinks of himself as a warrior."

"Then team him up with a warrior," says Anakin. "Put him with Captain Tarpals, and tell him that the Chosen One demands that Jar-Jar Binks be given every opportunity to show his courage in battle."

Boss Nass bows low. "As you wish."


"Oh! Thank godssss!" Newt Gunray hisses to the holographic image of Darth Maul projecting on the main deck of the Federation command ship in orbit. "I thought the Sssith had abandoned usssss!"

"Explain yourself," Darth Maul's voice tears at the corners of Newt's mind.

"There hasss been no word from Darth Ssssidious," squeaks Newt. "For nearly a day now--ow."

The deck of the ship quakes with Maul's anger, even at this distance, and the Neimoidian crew nervously grip their equipment. "He's waiting to see who comes out on top," Maul seethes. "It is the Sith with the greatest power."

"The planet is ssssecure, My Lord. Mossst of the people are in detention campssss. Our sssatellitesss indicate an army assssembling near the wildernessss of an adjaccccent continent, but it appearssss to be made up of primitivessss. We do not expect much resssissstancccce."

"Send all available troops," grumbles Maul.

"M-M-My Lord? Our troopsss are already sssspread thin. We have jussst enough to guard the campsss..."

"Send the troops from the capital."

"My Lord!"

"I will guard the palace. You will wipe them out. All of them."

"Yesss, My Lord!"


At the ridge where the tallgrass forest of Gungan territory meets the maintained lawn of Meadowbrook Park, the leaders say their goodbyes.

"You do your world a great honor today, Anakin Skywalker." Padme speaks warmly and regally, even as she sits astride a Gungan hovercycle in a fighter pilot's uniform. The hovercycle, quite recently a Gungan bicycle, now crackles with the power of the tomb as it floats above the ground.

Anakin, garbed in supercharged Gungan armor and sitting astride a kaadu, looks more like a man than a boy. "Aw, it's nothing!" he smiles. "Just a favor for a friend." They look each other in the eyes and giggle. They're both nervous.

"Look! There he is!"

Another Gungan hovercycle speeds across the park towards them, bearing Captain Panaka.

"What's the situation?" asks the Queen.

"A few hundred police and guards have formed an underground movement; I've given them instructions and they await your signal. The Federation Army is also much larger than we thought, and much stronger. They've emptied the palace; it looks like they'll be throwing everything they've got at the Gungans. Good news for us, but bad news for the Gungans, I'm afraid."

"You let me worry about the Gungans," says Anakin. "We know what we're here for."

"Anakin..." says the Queen. She continues her thought telepathically. "There's no need at all for you to get yourself killed in this. Keep yourself safe. Everything I'm doing is for you, and all the children of Naboo."

Anakin's response rings clear and controlled in her mind, a product of Anakin's power rather than her own. "I think I'm growing up pretty fast, Padme."

"I'm serious," she says out loud, undeterred by his display. "Don't die out there."

"Okay, I won't," says Anakin, noticing for the first time that he had stopped caring at all about his own well-being. He shudders; this is a new experience for him. It helps to know someone else out there still cares. "Really. I promise. No dying."

She nods. "Good."

Obi-Wan and Boss Nass walk together out of the forest, deep in discussion of physics. "But how do you propose we test for it?" asks Obi-Wan. "You can't just assume that the AT field feeds back on itself, what? Because the Force itself wills it?"

"You might say that," says Nass. "But either way, if you just assume the field is sentient..."

"But that's an absurd assumption!" Obi-Wan sounds desperate to make his point. "It's like, next thing I know you're going to be asking me to just assume the galaxy is flat! Am I right?" He addresses that last question to Anakin and the Queen, who look back with utter incomprehension.

"Master Kenobi," Nass says politely, "Though I may disagree with you a great deal on matters of projection dynamics, it is a rare delight to have anyone with whom I can discuss such things. I am glad for the time we have had together."

"Oh, this isn't over yet," smirks Obi-Wan. "We'll take this up again at the victory party. Don't think you'll get out of it that easy!"

"May the Force be with you, Master Kenobi," Nass says with a bow, "that it be so." He turns to Anakin. "My Lord, your army awaits your command."

"Thank you, Boss Nass!" Anakin salutes.

Padme says, "Nass, when we spoke earlier, you mentioned a secret shortcut to Theed?"

"Yes, of course," says the Gungan leader. "The speediest way to the Naboo..." He grins broad, like a child showing off his favorite toy. " through the planet core."

No one is sure what he means, so they just watch as he steps away from them and kneels in prayer, mumbling words to the ground. As he speaks, the ground gives way into a sinkhole, creating a bottomless passage with a nearly vertical drop.

"You can close your gaping mouths now," Nass laughs, turning back to them. "Our Creator blessed my people with this ability, and long have we used it to traverse beneath your feet, but don't even begin to ask me how it works. Have no fear. The ground will heal itself in time, and your hovercycles will help you navigate the drop. You should come out the other side a short ride from the Cliffs of the Naboo."

Obi-Wan looks around, disappointed. "Only two hovercycles?"

Nass shrugs. "Before yesterday, we only had two bicycles."

Obi-Wan walks toward the Queen's hovercycle. "Well, Your Highness, if you don't mind, I'll just..." He sees the look on everyone's faces. "...jump. I can manage, no worries. Jedi Knight, and all that."

Anakin looks to Obi-Wan, Captain Panaka and Padme. "So...this is it, huh? You ride, we march, and today we save the world?"

Obi-Wan salutes Anakin. "May the Force be with you, Anakin Skywalker!"

Anakin returns the salute. "And also with you, Obi-Wan Kenobi!"

There's nothing left to be said. With a final nod, Obi-Wan takes a running leap and plummets down the hole. Captain Panaka revs his cycle, Padme takes a last look at Anakin, and they both speed over the edge, sailing harmlessly into the depths. Just like that, they're gone.

Anakin's face turns to stone. "Boss Nass, order the troops into marching formation."

"Yes, My Lord!"

A horn sounds across the landscape, and with the slow pace of creatures bound to their feet for travel, the Gungan army makes its way out of the forest.

Next Scene: The Battle of Naboo